Award-winning student videos explore cultural identity

Two area students won awards for their short videos exploring their cultural identity – and how others perceive them – in the 2019 Mosaic Mobile film contest. 

Mariah Barrera, a senior at City High/Middle School, won a $1,000 first prize for her film “Red, White & Green,” a soul-searching reflection on being told at age 9 that she wasn’t a “real Mexican” because she didn’t speak Spanish. 

Xiangyu Chen, a junior at East Grand Rapids High School, received the $500 Rick Wilson Memorial Award for his film “A Second Story,” about his search for a sense of home as a Chinese immigrant in America. Wilson was a founding organizer of the Mosaic Film Experience, an annual event offering student workshops with media professionals and the opportunity for students to express themselves through film. 

The winners were among 10 finalists chosen from nearly 100 entries by students who shot films on their mobile devices. They were announced at the eighth annual Mosaic Event held Nov. 6 and 7 at Wealthy Theatre. 

Sophia DiPiazza and Kaleigh Kenyonm who attend the Ottawa ISD Careerline Tech Center, won second and third place, respectively, as determined by a panel of local film producers and other creative industry professionals. The Rick Wilson award was determined by an online vote. Mariah Barrera also won the inaugural Spectrum Health Mosaic Mobile student film contest last spring, while Byron Center’s Morgan Weststrate took second prize.

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Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio or email Charles.

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